Marlenique, a fruit farm and wedding venue outside Franschhoek, has unveiled a floating solar PV system.

The system was installed by New South Energy on the farm’s dam, helping to generate clean energy, while also minimising evaporation from the farm’s dam and saving valuable agricultural land.

It is believed to be the first commercially-operated floating solar system on the continent and, at 60kWp, it is also the largest.

The first phase of the project, which also includes a land-based solar installation on the farm, will allow the farm to run 90% of its energy intensive cold storage, irrigation and wedding venue facilities off of the traditional electricity grid.

A second phase which will see the installation of battery packs, will remove them from the grid completely.

Boplaas 1743, which owns and operates the farm, is one of the oldest family-owned businesses in the country.

Financial director Carl van der Merwe says the installation will reduce their carbon footprint by half. With rising electricity prices, and uncertainty around Eskom, the family made the decision to invest in solar.

“Marlenique farm is the highest energy user in our portfolio. We are aiming to be 100% green through solar energy solutions across our entire portfolio in the near future,” he says.

David Masureik, CEO of New South Energy, commends Boplaas for being innovators in the agricultural sector. He adds: “I would also like to thank the government for their interest in solutions that will inevitably encourage the sector to thrive. Without the support and encouragement from national and local government for industry to become more sustainable and independent in terms of power solutions, our business would not exist. We are honoured to take part in positive change happening across the public and private sector.”